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April 2015

Frostbite and Chilblains in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle

Author Affiliations
  • 1Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
  • 2Georgetown University–Washington Hospital Center, Department of Dermatology, Washington, DC
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(4):421. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.2343

In The Jungle,1 author Upton Sinclair uses cold exposure injuries to illustrate exploitation of America’s laboring classes by ruthlessly venal industrialists during the early 20th century. In the book, working-class immigrants in Chicago’s meatpacking industry suffer varying degrees of cold injury as a consequence of hostile working conditions. Injuries range from milder forms, including frostnip (superficial, local paresthesias without tissue destruction), chilblains (painful edematous erythematous lesions due to acute or repetitive exposure to near-freezing cold), to more serious conditions, such as frostbite (tissue destruction).

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